Scientists use Twitter to track mental illness trends
A research team at Johns Hopkins turned to Twitter to study mental illness in geographic areas. After previously using algorithms to track the spread of flu based on comments on Twitter, the scientists took a similar approach to analyzing mental health trends based on 8 billion tweets on Twitter.
They found a strong relationship between areas of high-unemployment and depression, as well as strong cases of PTSD near areas with military bases that deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan. Neither of those findings is surprising, the research showed that tracking Twitter could be an effective tool for collecting location-based mental health data.
The researchers said this approach also could help psychologists investigate the language associated with certain mental health problems. The goal would be to use this language to address the role of stigma plays with mental illness, based on the way people talk about it.
Researchers did note that using a social platform like Twitter has its limits. The representation of the illnesses may be skewed based on the amount of people that may not use Twitter, or feel comfortable about discussing their illness online. Twitter may also not be as effective in monitoring illnesses that aren’t as well known or discussed.
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Sourced from: Huffington Post, Scientists Are Using Twitter Data To Track Depression
Published On: Dec 12, 2014
Sugar could harm blood pressure more than salt
For a long time, salt has been identified as one of the chief threats to healthy blood pressure, Now, however, a study published in the journal Open Heart suggests that sugars in general, and fructose in particular, may be more harmful.
Based on reviews of population-based studies, researchers noted that ingesting one 24-ounce soft drink has been shown to cause an average maximum increase in blood pressure of 15/9 mm Hg and heart rate of 9 bpm. In another study, they found that higher sugar intake significantly increases systolic (6.9 mm Hg) and diastolic blood pressure (5.6 mm Hg) in trials of eight weeks or more in duration. The rate increased to 7.6/6.1 mm Hg when studies that received funding from the sugar industry were excluded. Overall, they found that those who consume 25 percent or more calories from added sugar have an almost threefold increased risk of death due to cardiovascular disease.
The researchers concluded that an increase in “sympathetic tone” from the overconsumption of fructose is one likely reason for the sugar’s ability to increase heart rate, cardiac output, renal sodium retention and vascular problems. However, it’s important to note that consuming sugar in its natural form, like in whole fruits, is not harmful and is likely beneficial.
The scientists did note that the negative impact of frutose was tied to its use in processed foods and that consuming it in its natural form, such as in whole fruit, isn’t harmful.
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Sourced from: Medical News Today, Sugars may contribute to high blood pressure more than salt
Published On: Dec 12, 2014